Truman High School graduate Kierra Collier had a few struggles during her freshman season with the University of Washington women’s basketball team.
She tore a ligament in her left (shooting) wrist, which affected her shot in her 25 games played, 14 of which she started. That affected her play as she averaged 6.6 points per game on just 34.4-percent shooting from the floor, including 19 percent from behind the arc.
“It was hard adjusting to the injury,” Collier said. “I ended up sitting out until the end of February. It was painful to play with. That’s when I finally decided to sit out. Then I had a scope done in March, and that’s when they found out I tore a ligament.
“I didn’t have a lot of range of motion, so it was pretty problematic.”
After playing with the Huskies for one year, the former Patriot decided it was time for a change of scenery.
Collier transferred to Drake University in September and will sit out for a year per NCAA rules before she begins her sophomore year with the Bulldogs. So far, Collier is enjoying her time in Des Moines, Iowa.
“I wanted to be closer to home,” said Collier, whose new college is now only 193.5 miles away from Independence. “My mom wasn’t able to catch many of my games when I was at Washington. Now it’s just a three-hour drive instead of a three-hour flight. The environment here in Des Moines is different than what you’ll get at any other school.”
That includes helping other people, as Collier and the rest of the Drake women’s basketball team is heavily involved in community service.
“The community is involved all the time, and we do a lot of community work here,” said Collier, a three-time all-state player, a two-time Examiner Player of the Year and a two-time finalist for the DiRenna Award that goes to the top player in the metro area. “We helped build a house and it was really different. That was my first time doing something like that. We also made packages for families and sent them to other places. Every year, we try to get 1,000 hours of community service. That is just something you don’t see everywhere.”
Collier added that she also has a good connection with head coach Jennie Baranczyk, which has helped the transfer go smoothly.
“She has the smartest brain when it comes to basketball and I love that,” Collier said of Baranczyk. “But more importantly she is family first. She is worried about you first more than she is basketball. That was a really big thing for me.”
Right now, Collier is practicing with the team, getting used to Baranczyk’s system. She also is getting to practice with fellow Truman grad Becca Jonas, who is in her senior season at Drake.
When Collier transferred to Truman for her sophomore year of high school, she didn’t get to play with Jonas, who had just graduated. Now that Collier is at Drake, she’ll get to practice with Jonas, but won’t get to play with her in an actual game.
“We talk about it all the time – we are always a year off,” Collier said. “If I went to Truman earlier, I would have been able to play with her. And if I would have came to Drake a year earlier, we could have played together. It just didn’t happen.
“But playing with her in practice is really cool. She has such a high IQ basketball-wise. And she’s a great leader. I know I can go to her and ask her anything.”
And while she’s taking the mandatory year off from playing in games, Collier said she’s working on dribbling more with her right hand and shooting from the outside.
She’s sharpening her skills for next season, a year she wants to help her new team make the NCAA Tournament once again.
“I hope to be the starting point guard next year,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of talent and we’re bringing back a lot of talent next year. We have a lot of talent and people who are hungry to get on the court and be a part of what it means to be a Bulldog. I think we can definitely make it to the tournament next year.”